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Yachting enthusiasts can take a tour — or excursion — on the iconic sailing ship America this Saturday and Monday.
Underway from its home port in San Diego, California, the 139-foot America was built in 1995 as a replica of the schooner America, which defeated the British in a 50-mile race around the Isle of Wright in the English Channel in 1851 and gave birth to the name of the international sailing competition, the America’s Cup.
The ship is on it’s east coast tour, destined for the 2017 America’s Cup in Bermuda this summer.
It’s a once in a lifetime experience, Troy Sears, the ship’s captain and co-owner, said. It’s the schooner’s first tour. The vessel is destined for the 2017 America’s Cup in Bermuda in June. It’s the only official ambassador of the America’s Cup, an internationally recognized yachting competition that awards its victor with a trophy.
“This is the first time in the 166 year history that a tour has taken place. That’s how rare it is,” Sears said. “A lot of the places say ‘its once in a lifetime’ and so often we would hear that … it’s exaggerated. But here, it most likely is, once in a lifetime.”
Sears said he stopped by Wilmington on a scouting trip to find areas where the ship could fit and dock for his tours. He choose Wilmington, not just because the ship could fit and stay afloat in the dock space, but also because of the area’s charm.
“Here, I was met by a member … they were very warm, they were very receiving. It really was a warm reception. That makes a difference,” Sears said. “Good southern hospitality here.”
The Carolina Yacht Club on Wrightsville Beach is hosting and providing dock space for America while the ship is in Wilmington. Carolina Yacht Club is one of 10 stops that was scheduled between Sept. 8 and Oct. 5 in the east coast tour.
“It’s amazing. To have a boat that represents something as big as the first vessel that won the America’s Cup is pretty huge for the sailing community here,” General Manager of the Carolina Yacht Club Kevin Smith said in a news release about the plans for the tour in Wrightsville Beach.
On Saturday and Monday, the captain is hosting free dock side tours and will share with guests what he calls the “real history” of the America. No reservations are needed for the free dockside tour. Dock Tours are available from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday. On Monday, dock tours run from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1-4 p.m.
Sailing excursions are also being offered on Saturday and Monday, but the excursions must be booked in advance and space is limited. The excursions are $85 for adults and $42.50 for children under 18. Sailing Excursions will take place from 1:30-4 p.m. and 4:30-7 p.m. Saturday. On Monday excursions will run 4:30-7 p.m. To reserve a spot on an excursion or get a list of other tour locations visit the booking website.